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Secular Jews update Haggadah — with new plagues

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los angeles (jta) | There is a new secular Hagadah that might raise a few eyebrows among traditional Jews, the "Sholem Family Hagada For a Secular Celebration of Peysakh."

It is published by the Sholem Community of Los Angeles, a 50-year-old secular Jewish educational, cultural and social institution, edited by the group's "guide," Hershl Hartman, and Jeffrey Kaye, and illustrated in full color by Kevin Bostwick.

Like other secular or humanistic haggadot, the Sholem edition rejects the recitation of "deistic formulas or acceptance as literal truth of the myths of the traditional hagada."

However, it seeks to honor "the folk traditions that took inspiration from the [Exodus] legend to imbue generations with a commitment to justice and equality."

There are some innovations in the new version that might startle many synagogue-going Jews. For instance, the frogs and boils of the traditional Ten Plagues have been replaced by such miseries as "the plague of homelessness," "war," "poisoned air and water" and "the nuclear shadow over our lives."

Besides the prescribed bitter herbs and charoset on the seder plate, an orange is added to symbolize "those not fully recognized by the Jewish community — women, gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals and transgendered people."

Information on the Sholem Haggadah:


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